The Korea Herald


Maestro Chung Myung-whun likely to lead KBS Symphony Orchestra

By Park Ga-young

Published : July 1, 2024 - 15:09

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Chung Myung-whun (KBS Symphony Orchestra) Chung Myung-whun (KBS Symphony Orchestra)

Conductor Chung Myung-whun might lead the KBS Symphony Orchestra as the next music director. Discussions with Chung are in the final stages, an orchestra official told The Korea Herald on Monday.

It would be Chung's first time leading a Korean orchestra after nine years.

Since stepping down from his positions as director of both the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra and the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra in 2015, Chung has not held a directorial role. Instead, he has been conducting various orchestras around the world as a guest conductor.

The appointment would also mark his return to the KBS Symphony Orchestra after he left his post as the principal conductor in 1998, only four months into his three-year tenure -- a departure prompted by internal discord. In 2022, the orchestra appointed Chung as its first "honorary laureate" conductor, and he has since been collaborating with the orchestra on regular concerts such as "Masters Series."

The final decision is expected to be announced in August or September.

Chung resumed engagements in Korea in earnest last year by assuming the role of general director overseeing Busan's municipal performance venues, including the Busan Opera House and the Busan International Art Center. These venues are scheduled to open sequentially starting in 2025.

Meanwhile, Chung and the KBS Symphony Orchestra are set to offer the second edition Choral on July 12 at Lotte Concert Hall, following the first installment in March.

Chung and the orchestra will perform Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D.759 "Unfinished" and Rossini’s "Stabat Mater" with soprano Hwang Su-mi, mezzo-soprano Kim Jung-mi, tenor Kim Seung-jik and bass-baritone Samuel Youn as well as Anyang Civic Chorale and Incheon City Chorale.

Rossini's “Stabat Mater” is a religious work expressing the sorrow of the Virgin Mary, based on the medieval Latin poem “Stabat Mater Dolorosa,” which describes the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The piece demonstrates how Rossini's operatic style can merge with religious music, characterized by its rich melodies and dramatic expression despite its religious theme. The work is divided into 10 parts, each combining choral and solo sections with the orchestra.

Tickets for this performance sold out early, including additional obstructed view and reserved seats.

In March, as the first part of the 2024 KBS Symphony Orchestra's Masters Series, Chung and the orchestra performed Verdi's “Requiem.”